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How'd Demar Phillips fare on his RSL debut? Promising — but combinations still coming

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

With Demar Phillips making his Real Salt Lake debut, we got our first real look at our brand new left back — and the results provided us with plenty to be excited about.

Phillips showed as an attacking left back, but more importantly, he did provide other benefits as well. We're breaking down some of the more interesting stats from his first RSL performance.

  • He had a team-high six interceptions (Chris Schuler only just trailed with five), all on the left side around midfield. That sort contribution is important because it helps decrease vulnerability in transition play.
  • Phillips had nearly 25 percent of Real Salt Lake's clearances (7 of 30), which is substantial. That number is still smaller than Jamison Olave' s count (nine) and even with Chris Schuler. On the other side, Tony Beltran had only two clearances.
  • He had only five incomplete passes, all of which were short, combination-play passes.
  • He attempted six crosses, none of which were successful. Four of those were very near the end-line.

We can draw from these stats a number of different of conclusions — but let's focus on some of the more sane ones.

Phillips, like many good fullbacks playing higher up the pitch, ended up in good positions to pick off passes from the opposition. That would seem to indicate a good understanding of his role, but it's certainly not complete. Those clearance counts aren't necessarily what you want to see from a fullback on this team — and while we could look at it on a case-by-case basis, it's much easier to think about it in a broader sense.

From his passes, we can see that he's a good passer, but we also see that maybe his combinations with midfielders and forwards on the left side could use some work, too. But it's also a consequence of us playing a tight-passing game — those sorts of numbers are more or less to be expected.